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3 Ways to Watch DVD Movies on a Budget

Updated on February 26, 2009

We all have a fascination to watching movies. Movies will take us to a place we couldn't even imagine. From well written scripts to large scale explosions, we all love a good movie now and then. Do we have to go to the theater and suffer through uncomfortable seats, obnoxious audiences, and poor quality audio systems? Going to a theater will generally cost you more time than the running time of the movie. Total time to watch a movie in a theater includes time in driving, parking, and ticket purchase line. You will have to get there early unless you like watching movies in the front row. After that, you will then be subjected to more commercials and trailers.

The alternative is to watch DVDs and Blu-ray discs. Blue-ray hasn't totally taken off yet so I'll skip that subject for now. DVD movies have been around a good amount of time now. Finding places to buy and rent them aren't too hard to find but are they cost efficient? So what are our options to watch a DVD and maybe even save money doing it?


No Tax and Free Shipping is a BIG draw to many.
No Tax and Free Shipping is a BIG draw to many.

1) Buying

Everyone who has a DVD player has probably bought at least one DVD already. The draw to having them bought is that you keep them and they are in your personal library. Buying new attracts people because they know they were the only ones to have watched it. I find this funny since it is not like you are going to eat the DVD so why care if it's new as long as it plays fine. Traditional means to buying a DVD are at your local media store like BestBuy, 2nd hand store like pawn shops, and online stores like Who would have guessed that Half Price Bookstore would have great deals on new and used DVDs? Ebay has a huge selection of people trying to dump new and used DVDs. If your trying to score a collection, garage sales are a good place to look also as they will generally sell in lots versus individually.

2) Renting

Everyone probably has some type of rental store next to them. The more popular ones around me are Blockbuster and Hollywood Video. Prices over the years have gone up and selection has gone down. This is a good option if you want to save money on buying DVDs. Seriously, how many movies do you own that you watch over and over? Those select few should be purchased and the rest should be watched once or twice at most. *



Netflix has come about and changed the way people watch movies. The mail subscription service has turned many infrequent consumers into monthly paying customers. Sure there are some pretty inexpensive plans to renting a couple movies a month but you are stuck in a subscription. If you hold 1 DVD the entire month, that one DVD will cost you a whole lot more to watch. So many Netflix members are pretty much rushed to watch their movies because the longer they let the movie sit with them the more it cost per DVD to watch them. People want bang for their buck. Paying $20 per month and only watching one DVD that month doesn't make a whole lot of economic sense. You might as well just have bought it at the store. The real deal in Netflix is the ability to watch foreign films and television series. Most foreign films are harder to find and television series will cost you up to $100 if you bought them at the store. If you watched the whole Friends televisions you know that buying them all would make a huge dent in your wallet. Watching high priced DVDs makes Netflix such a draw. Netflix now has an online streaming service and lets you watch some newer movies, but the collection is primarily older titles. Netflix also offers a box you can hook up to your television called the Roku. This might be the wave of the future if Netflix can start getting more new release titles through that streaming service. I would defiantly purchase one when Netflix starts to stream high definition media over it. Roku has the connections for HD but Netflix has yet to stream them.


$1 + Tax and on many Mondays it is FREE
$1 + Tax and on many Mondays it is FREE


Redbox and DVD kiosks are coming around to more cities and catching on popularity. Basically it is a giant DVD vending machine. New releases come in and you pay a set amount to rent a DVD per night. Redbox is $1 plus tax per day. If you return it before 9 pm the following day your in the clear. Grocery stores usually have a DVD kiosk and they range in price for older release to newer releases. Some newer releases can be around $3. I don't recommend a grocery store DVD kiosk mainly because you have to return it there and most are over $1. With Redbox, you can essentially rent a DVD for a long car ride and return it in another city. Since many Redbox vending machines are at McDonald's it would be hard NOT to find one to return a DVD. Every Walmart near me also has a Redbox. The more popular McDonalds near me have 2 Redbox machines. Redbox also gives away codes all the time. New members get a code and certain times of the year they give away free rental Monday codes. They do this because new releases are on Tuesday and Redbox wants to get some traffic before the New Releases come in.


Totally FREE and emphasizes reusing packaging materials.
Totally FREE and emphasizes reusing packaging materials.


3) Trading Sites

There are a couple places that you can trade in a DVD and get points to get another DVD. Most of these are Peer to Peer so the selection and activity is related to the user base. Peerflix was the biggest and was a bit more automated but it has since gone under recently by emphasizing a different business model. The two bigger sites I have heard of are Barterbee, and Switchplanet. I personally use Switchplanet mainly because it's free and the user group there is very friendly. Switchplanet emphasizes reusing packing materials and donating to charitable groups. Barterbee has a larger community but I didn't get involved in the beginning since it wasn't free but recently it has switched to being free. The reason I like trading sites is because you actually keep the title. You have no fees to worry about. You don't have to rush your way into finishing a movie. The drawback is that the selection isn't that great and you have to send in DVDs to get points to request DVDs. If you don't send in any DVDs you have to buy points which kind of defeat the purpose of using a site like these. You are trying to save money by trading items you no longer use. Both do trade in other medias like games and CDs so you could possibly dump your CD collection to get some DVDs.

I Use Them All

I personally use all 3 methods above. I share an account on Netflix, I rent for free with coupons with Redbox, I buy Blu-ray movies I know I will watch again, and I use Switchplanet to move old movies for newer ones. The combination has worked well for me as I have been able to find new movies that aren't new releases. It's always hard to find new stuff to watch when I've seen so much already. Sometimes the best way to find new material is through other members. Netflix has Blu-ray movies but the quantity on hand is very low so wait times are very long. Blu-ray movies generally run a lot more than DVDs.

Find a mixture of what works for you and you can save a bundle on doing something you love. Learn to watch movies at home with your HD television and surround sound without worrying if you stepped in gum while on a budget.


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    • spooon profile image

      spooon 8 years ago from Texas

      library is a valid option but the 2 near me have only a coupld dvds and a lot of VHS. the CD section is much better but for new releases nothing beats a free movie on monday using redbox.

    • profile image

      patrick 8 years ago

      try your local library, funded by taxes you already pay.

    • spooon profile image

      spooon 9 years ago from Texas

      using them together with the free monday redbox rental is best. Netflix has limited new releases and those that I miss I can snag on redbox.

    • Star Smith profile image

      Star Smith 9 years ago from Right Here, USA

      You've filled me in on Redbox. I've seen those kiosk but have not bothered to check them out. Now I know how they work. I like Netflix because you can be lazy and just walk to your mailbox in your bathrobe.

    • cgull8m profile image

      cgull8m 9 years ago from North Carolina

      I love Redbox, they are a great service. There is a McDonald's nearby but I haven't seen the Redbox there I will double check next time. They are an excellent services, prices are great.

    • jim10 profile image

      jim10 9 years ago from ma

      Thanks for all of the suggestions. I find that redbox always has codes online to get free rentals. Also for your first time at Netflix or blockbuster online you can get a free trial.